The man who said he once lost lots of pounds eating only McDonald's was such a viral sensation that the fast-food giant actually recruited him to evangelize about nutrition at schools across America. But those days appear to be over, with John Cisna yanked after criticism from parents, teachers, and public health experts, Reuters reports. "John's currently focused on the opportunities that make the most sense for our brand at this time," a McDonald's rep says, per the Washington Post. "Specifically ... on internal and local community events, and he is not appearing at schools." The company quietly pulled back Cisna's appearances, as well as supplementary materials it provided, after critics said the program was sending mixed messages about healthy eating and pushing McDonald's onto kids in the process, the Washington Post reports.
Cisna, an ex-science teacher from Iowa, received a stipend from McDonald's for his travel expenses and time, where he talked about his journey—the Post notes he lost a total of nearly 60 pounds over six months, eating McDonald's but keeping his calories to 2,000 a day—and showed a documentary said to be a counterpoint to Super Size Me, the Morgan Spurlock fast-food takedown. But a Change.org petition with nearly 90,000 signatures railed against the "heavily branded infomercial." "If McDonald's wants to post 540 Meals on YouTube or show it in movie theaters, that's the company's right. But it's our right as parents to keep this kind of aggressive fast food advertising out of our kids' schools," writes Bettina Siegel, a mom who started the petition and penned a blog post on the matter. Cisna issued his own statement, noting, "My focus has always been to encourage people to exercise and make more informed choices about food. Now I'm focused on ... talking to employees and community groups about my story of choice and balance." (This man is eating a potato-only diet.)